We truly live in a ‘global world’ today. It’s not just our little neighbourhood, our city, nor even our own nation. Whereas the world of the New Testament times was the ‘Roman world’, the world of today is actually the whole of planet earth.
Our global world is ever expanding in its technology and communication, as well as its population. It is estimated that the world’s population is currently around 6.7 billion people. It is amazing to note that in 1955, the world’s population was approximately 2.5 billion people. That means that the world’s population has more than doubled in just fifty short years!
Thinking about the explosion in the world’s population reminds me of the continual advance of the kingdom of God in the earth. For example, some estimates are that about 22,000 people are born again each day in China! Did you catch that?! That means that multiple millions are coming to Christ each year in China, and it is now estimated that the church in China has reached beyond the 100 million mark. This in a country that has quite restrictive rules about practicing the Christian faith!
In 1900, Africa was approximately 4% Christian, but by 1990, Africa’s Christianity had grown to 40% of the population. In both the continent of Africa and in the sub-continent of India, it is estimated that between 15,000 and 20,000 people surrender theirs lives to Christ on a daily basis! The encouragement continues when one takes time to read about the remarkable things taking place right across other parts of Eastern Europe, South America, and Central America. And, though we might not see these numbers in the western world, God continues to be at work amongst Western Europe and North America.
Who knows? If you consider all the things happening in all parts of the world, it is estimated that as many as 100,000 people are coming to Christ each day! In all of this, some would approximate that the church has now reached somewhere between the one and two billion mark on earth. This is incredible to think about! It’s not like you can really tally up every one of these statistics, for some countries outlaw Christianity. But, the overwhelming fact is that God is on the move all across planet earth.
Hearing such wonderful news recalls to mind what Isaiah prophesied:
Now it will come about that in the last days the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it. (2:2)
Though I have done this in a previous article, for reminders sake, it might be good to take a moment to address the question of when is the ‘last days’? (Click on the link to read the full article.) In Acts 2, after the Holy Spirit was poured out, some were mocking what they saw, claiming that the people were drunk. But Peter took his stand and declared:
For these men are not drunk, as you suppose…but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: “And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘that I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind” (Acts 2:14-17)
Peter was proclaiming that Joel’s prophecy was being fulfilled right in front of their eyes, or better yet, in their hearing. The fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy had begun at Pentecost in Acts 2. Thus, if the ‘last days’ began at that Pentecost, then all generations since the initial pouring out of the Holy Spirit are also to be a part of the ‘last days’. How do we know? Because this is the age when the Holy Spirit would be given to all mankind – men, women, young, old! The pouring out of the Spirit was confirmation that, at Pentecost, we entered the last days.
Therefore, we did not enter the last days 100 years ago, 50 years ago, nor 10 years ago. The last days are not a seven-year period before Christ returns. We entered into the last days when the Spirit was poured forth, and thus, we have been in the last days for the past 1,979 years (or so) – the whole Messianic Age in which the Messiah would reign (Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:18-23). This reign of the Messiah, the Christ, would be evidenced by Jesus pouring out God’s Spirit (see Acts 2:32-33). And we will continue to be in the last days until Christ returns to fully establish His kingdom.
Next, it would be good to insert a note to help understand Biblical prophecy. One thing we will need to remember about the poetic prophecy of Scripture is that it is not always fulfilled at one specific moment in history. Most understand that prophecy carries an aspect of double fulfillment, meaning that the specific prophecy will be fulfilled twice. At some point the prophecy will be initially fulfilled closer to the time it was spoken, but there is also a greater fulfillment that will take place sometime in the future.
For example, in Isaiah 7:14 we read:
Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
I believe this prophecy was initially fulfilled through the birth of the child Maher-shalal-hash-baz in Isaiah 8:1-10. If you study the context, you will see that he was the son given in Isaiah’s day that was to be a sign to king Ahaz that God was with the people of Judah and not with Israel or Syria. God was Immanuel – God was with Judah! Yet, we also know this prophecy was to be fulfilled in a greater way through the birth of Jesus (see Matthew 1:18-25).
But prophecy can also have the aspect of what we can call cumulative fulfillment. This speaks of prophecy being fulfilled cumulatively, or increasingly, throughout history. An example would be in Isaiah 9:7, which speaks of the increase of Christ’s reign and peace.
So, when we come to Isaiah’s prophecy in 2:2, it would be good to keep this principle of cumulative fulfilment in mind:
Now it will come about that in the last days the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it.
Here, we find that what Isaiah prophesied has been, is being fulfilled, and will continue to be fulfilled throughout this present Messianic age until Christ comes back. God is remaining true to His word! He is remaining true to His promises!
Interestingly enough, in the prophetic Scriptures, mountains many times stood for kingdoms. Thus, God’s ‘mountain’, or His kingdom, is becoming the chief mountain in all the earth, raised above all the other ‘hills.’ The rule of God is expanding on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). I believe the manifestation of Jesus’ reign is greater in our generation than the generation before. And in my children’s and grandchildren’s generations, I believe Jesus’ reign will be manifest in an even greater capacity.
No, I do not specifically embrace an overly positive eschatology that says everything must and will become Christian before Christ returns (usually known as postmillenialism). Jesus makes it clear that there will continue to be unrighteous people living until the end of the age comes (see Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43). But we must keep a Biblical perspective in regards to the reign of Christ. And I believe the Word makes it clear that Jesus is reigning now and the reality of His reign will continue to increase until one day, when He returns, it will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).
Even in the midst of tragedy, trial and tribulation on earth, we as God’s people should not forget who is reigning as King. There will never be a day when Jesus is not reigning in the earth, and I know His reign is increasing more and more as the years pass. Oh yes, there is much more to come; there is much more that God wants to accomplish in the earth. But reading Isaiah’s words does remind us that, yes, ‘in the last days the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains.’
I am glad that Jesus is extending His government, His kingdom, all that His ‘mountain’ might become the chief in all of the earth. Let the Church be encouraged, and let us not forget to continue to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom and to pray that His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.